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Three Tech Initiatives for Combating the Spread of Malaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 1 2013

Mosquito via Wikipedia

Although prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in mortality rates from malaria by 25 percent since 2000, 3.3 billion people are still at risk for infection, according to the World Health Organization. The World Health Assembly’s goal is to reduce malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent (relative to the rates in 2000) by 2015. There are a number of new products or tools that help eliminate the spread of malaria, from tea to soap, but these are the top tech-based innovations:

Connected Mobile Diagnostic Devices
Amplino builds pocket molecular biolabs, which are currently used for Malaria field testing. The results are all uploaded to a cloud server so researchers can monitor how and where the disease spreads. Amplino’s diagnostic test is more sensitive than the rapid diagnostic test but can be used by non-medical staff. The young Dutch founders have been called DIY biohackers because of their novel approaches, emphasis on open source sharing and undoubtedly because of their youth.

Prick-free Malaria App
A trio of Ugandan students created an application that uses a light sensor to diagnose malaria. The light sensor is connected to a tablet and then simply passed over a finger, no blood needed. The team that created Matibabu won a countrywide competition and will represent Uganda at the 2013 Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in Russia.

Cell Phone Data
Researchers are gleaning big data from simple cell phones, and epidemiologists are using it to combat the spread of information. The steps may be simple – sending text messages to visitors entering a particularly likely place to contract malaria reminding them to use bed netting – but when public health workers used to have to count people at transportation hubs in order to get travel data, any improvement is big improvement.